- 公益財団法人 史学会
- 史学雑誌 (ISSN:00182478)
- vol.118, no.9, pp.1620-1643, 2009-09-20 (Released:2017-12-01)
As one condition of the program instituted under the Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901, the emperor of China was required to make a formal apology to the emperor of Germany for the murder of Baron von Ketteler in Beijing during the Boxer uprising. However, the Qing Dynasty's decision to send a mission of expiation to Germany was motivated less by the rules of the Protocol than an intention to improve relations between the two countries, while Germany's main intent was to receive a formal apology for Ketteler's murder. This divergence in expectations would greatly complicate negotiations over how the audience between the Chinese ambassador and the German emperor was to be conducted and cause increased friction between the two countries. The problems concerning the audience decorum involved 1) the submission of an official communique, which Prince Chun 醇 was to perform in the presence of Wilhelm II and 2) the German demand that the Chinese "kowtow" at the emperor's feet as a sign of apology. The Chinese vehemently protested the demand to "kowtow" as an act of "national disgrace." As the negotiations bogged down, the original Chinese expectations about the mission were dashed. The Qing government desired the use of a precedent established in 1896 when Li Hongzhang 李鴻章 was granted an audience before Wilhelm II and submitted to him a formal letter; but the German emperor insisted that Prince Chun's Chinese retinue kowtow, despite initial opposition by his own Bureau of Foreign Affairs. Upon the advice of diplomats who had directly experienced life at the Qing Court, the Bureau argued that since the kowtow was a religious act, it was inappropriate within the realm of international diplomacy, showing that there were concerned parties in both countries who were willing to compromise via diplomatic precedents and interpretations. Wilhelm II did heed the criticism offered by his diplomats and public opinion, showing a disposition to compromise, but giving into such pressure also threatened to demean his imperial authority. Therefore, resolving the "kowtow problem" required some gesture from the Chinese, which appeared in the form of a prodigious appeal to the emperor from Prince Chun to graciously excuse his Chinese retinue from kowtowing, which freed the Germans to relent without any loss of face on the part of their emperor. It was in this way that through a compromise between the two countries on the question of diplomatic ceremony, the problems surrounding the mission of expiation were solved prior to the signing of the Boxer Protocol.